SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – An Upstate woman is upset because she said DHEC considers her pet raccoon a public health risk.
DHEC wants to test the animal for rabies, but the owner refuses to hand him over.
“Let me know when I need to turn myself in. You’re not getting my raccoon,” said Christy Mills.
Mills said Bandit, the raccoon, has been a part of her family since May 1, 2020.
Mills admits Bandit bit someone on May 21, which was reported to DHEC. Now, the Department of Health and Environmental Control wants him tested for rabies.
“Never to this day will he be euthanized and tested for rabies,” said Mills.
Mills said the person Bandit bit entered her home without being invited inside. A DHEC statement said Bandit has bitten multiple people and could be a public health risk.
DHEC says raccoons are the primary carrier of rabies in South Carolina.
“He has been vaccinated. Even though there’s no study yet that’s been proven that this vaccine works on raccoons,” explained Mills.
To test for rabies, an animal has to be killed. Mills said no way.
“It’s up to a $1,000 fine every day that I’m not complying,” she said.
Mills said she has a court date in September for a rabies control violation.
“If he had rabies, we would all be dead. My cat would be dead, the dog would be dead, my kids would be dead,” she said.
She wants to ease the minds of people in Spartanburg.
“He has never just gone up and bit somebody randomly,” she said.
She said Bandit is no longer in her home.
“He’s in South Carolina, so Spartanburg people do not be looking for a rabid raccoon. For he is not rabid, and he is not in Spartanburg,” she said.
Overall, Mills said her main goal is to be able to bring Bandit back to live with her family.
“We want Bandit home. I mean he’s not even eating his Scooby Snacks, I mean I’ve had to get a burner phone. I mean the craziest things to be able to check on this baby,” she said.
DHEC is asking anyone who has been bitten by a raccoon to seek medical attention and contact DHEC.